February 2023 Recognized as 211 Month by Maine Legislature

Ninette Irabaruta, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for United Way of Southern Maine, Senator Trey Stewart (Aroostook), and Nikki Williams, 211 Maine Program Manager, pose after the resolution passed in the State Senate.

AUGUSTA, Maine—Maine Legislature recognized February 2023 as 211 Month with bipartisan support. Finding help for complex needs like shelter, substance use, mental health, or food access can be hard for many Mainers. Fortunately, there is a Maine-based resource that can help.

The Joint Resolution recognizing 211 Month in Maine was cosponsored by Sen. Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook) and Rep. Lori Gramlich (D-Old Orchard Beach).

“I was pleased to sponsor a Joint Resolution in the Senate to recognize the remarkable resource that 211 Maine is for the people of Maine,” said Sen. Stewart. “I first learned of the organization in 2017 when I was a member of the Opioid Task Force. At that time, we were trying to figure out a way to get information out about life saving resources and 211 was a great avenue to do so.”

“As a social worker and a lifelong advocate for children, for older Mainers and for those with mental health issues, I know firsthand how critically important it is for folks to get the support they need,” shared Rep. Gramlich. “From assisting Mainers with financial assistance, to domestic violence, to addiction treatment, health care, mental health, or heating and utilities assistance, 211 in partnership with the United Way provides an invaluable resource for our community. I am honored to once again support this important resource”.

Ninette Irabaruta, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for United Way of Southern Maine, and Representative Lori Gramlich (Old Orchard Beach) pose after the resolution passed in the State House.

211 Maine became a statewide service in 2006. In 2022, 211 Maine received its one millionth call. The most common needs identified through referrals last year included: questions related to rent payment assistance, heating and utility assistance, health care, mental health and substance use resources, housing and shelter, relief check information, tax preparation assistance, and COVID-19.

“With the rising costs to meet basic needs like food and rent, it is more important now than ever for our community members to have an accessible place to find help when they need it,” expressed Shirar Patterson, 211 Maine Board of Directors President and President/CEO of Heart of Maine United Way. “211 Maine is that place for people to go when they don’t know where else to go.”

In addition to helping Mainers connect to the spectrum of health and human services, 211 continues its involvement in specific programs and projects, including serving as the centralized access point for the State’s new Help Me Grow system that helps families with children birth to eight get connected to needed behavioral health or educational services. Other initiatives include serving as Maine’s Opiate Helpline, Problem Gambling Helpline, answering questions about browntail moth caterpillars and COVID-19, and more.

Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting a Maine zip code to 898-211 or by dialing 211. 211 Maine is a collaborative effort of the United Ways of Maine, the State of Maine, and The Opportunity Alliance as the Contact Center Partner.


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